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PC, byte and chew?bit by bit

HI, PALANIAPPAN! How goes, man? Long time no see. Don?t know this crackpot who?s writing to you? Well I don?t blame you. Let?s say I am just another face in that army of Indian thousands that pays tax. Then why greet like a long-lost brother? Well! Since all Indians are my brothers, I thought I?d address you as one.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 00:42 IST

HI, PALANIAPPAN! How goes, man? Long time no see.
Don’t know this crackpot who’s writing to you? Well I don’t blame you. Let’s say I am just another face in that army of Indian thousands that pays tax. Then why greet like a long-lost brother? Well! Since all Indians are my brothers, I thought I’d address you as one.

Me? I’m still this side of 35, have a little family, with two little devils, a little salary, and very little saving. On my little salary, I’m also taxed. But then I am a responsible citizen and even though I might grudge paying income tax, I always try and pay what my due is.

It’s a different matter that since there is no knowing whether the money is actually going where it is said it is going that I am always a doubting Amit. And then to see thousands exchanging hands of the khadi-clad for raising questions in Parliament, and other such. Tsk…tsk.

But let me not digress from my purpose of writing to you. I was a happy man when I learnt the education of two children (you could still sire 20) would be a head under which tax relief could be got. But my joy turned out to be short-lived. What I learnt later, reading the fine print, was that ‘education’ was actually only the ‘tuition fee’ of the children.

Now, tuition fee is only 1/10th of what you actually spend trying to move your ward from one class to another. And God help you if your ward has inherited your Intelligence Gene. Without meaning to talk about genes, pantaloons and trousers, and to allay fears that I’ve bats in my belfry, here goes, and check me if I’ve got my arithmetic wrong.

For example: If my son’s total fee is Rs 900 odd (for a month) the tuition fee is Rs 400 odd. I get relief in income tax on the latter amount.
Not to make a molehill out of a mountain, my dear brother, what about the money that I spend on textbooks and stationery? If not three times the tuition fee, it’s easily double the amount.

Why weren’t the costs incurred on various uniforms he wears through the year, given tax relief? There’s one for summer, one for winter, one that he wears during his physical training (PT) class, and then there’s a raincoat he needs when it’s pouring camels and elephants. In the end multiply the amount that you get by 2 — you don’t suppose your nephew will make do with a single set of summer, winter and PT uniforms? The amount is roughly 100 times the tuition fee.

Then there’s expenditure under miscellaneous heads — costumes for dramas and other such. Make that another Rs 400.

How does he commute to and from school? The days of plasma transfer haven’t arrived; the rickshaw man takes Rs 1000 for a month (minus leave and French leave) and takes an hour traversing those 12 kilometres. If I take pity on the poor boy for going in an open rickshaw in the biting cold of January, blistering heat of May and the blinding monsoon of August and take the car out, that’s time saved and the boy, from the ravages of Nature. However, the pocket is lighter by Rs 1,200 spent on petrol.

Bro, can you find fault with my arithmetic? Are these expenses not incurred on the education of my child? Why am I not granted reprieve under these heads too? If not 100 per cent waiver, why can’t I have 50?
CC: Nalini Bhabhiji. I know you’ll understand my arithmetic better than Palaniappan. Hope you can cajole him into helping me.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 00:42 IST